Game 235 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 4

Game 235
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 4
Wednesday, March 19, 1947
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

In a game that meant absolutely nothing to either team from a standpoint of post position for the Stanley Cup playoffs, the awakened Maple Leafs took a popular 5-4 decision from their bitter rivals, the Montréal Canadiens, before another sellout crowd of 13,164 at Maple Leaf Gardens last night.

In taking their third decision from their archenemies on Toronto ice this season, the Leafs materially avenged the whitewashing the Toronto representatives received at the hands of the world’s champions last year.

The game completed the schedule between the two Canadian entries in the NHL. Out of 12 games, the Leafs won three, tied four and lost five, giving Dick Irvin’s doughboys a four point advantage on the series.

The most interesting highlight of the game from a Toronto standpoint was the stellar play of Toronto’s number one line of Syl Apps, Harry Watson and Bill Ezinicki. This trio have seldom looked better this season as they paced the home cause with three goals.

And only slightly shadowed by the performance of the big three, whose continued top form may well decide the Leafs’ chances in the postseason series, was the effort of Montréal’s Maurice Richard to pick up lost ground in the neck-and-neck stretch drive with Chicago’s Max Bentley to the individual scoring championship.

Richard went into last night’s fray two points behind Bentley. He came out of it with two of the Montréal goals, only to be informed that his opponent picked up an assist in a game against Boston in Beantown. Now the mighty Rocket, leader for the greater part of the season, trails by a single point. This thrilling side attraction will reach its pinnacle Saturday night when Chicago visits Montréal, and the two principals will be working for fame and glory on the same sheet of ice.

As for the game itself, it was one of the better Toronto-Montréal spectacles of the season, and they have played some thrilling hockey since last October. It was a wide open game that had the fans on edge to the final whistle.

This was in spite of referee Bill Chadwick, who, apparently acting under strict orders to prevent a repetition of Sunday’s battle of the sticks in New York, came up with an exhibition of officiating usually associated with the thumb waving of the pro basketball arbiters.

He warned the players before the opening faceoff that he was going to rule with an iron hand, and did just that, meting out 16 penalties, at least a dozen of them for so-called infractions of the rules that have been ignored more often than not by all referees during the season.

At that, it was probably just as well Chadwick did work by rule of thumb. As, despite his vigilance, the game threatened to break out in fisticuffs on several occasions, players on each team stepping into each other with plenty of force. A tussle between Toronto and Montréal without hard feeling creeping into the proceedings does not seem possible.

Coach Dick Irvin gave Richard every chance to get the vital points, playing the flashy performer on every line and both wings. He saw more than 30 minutes of action, and was on the ice every time the Leafs were shorthanded (Toronto had 10 penalties).

When the teams were at full strength, Harry Watson and Vic Lynn shadowed the scoring threat, while when the Leafs were down a man, Nick Metz stuck to Richard like flypaper, giving a performance that earned him three star selection. Richard’s first goal in the second period came on a breakaway, when Lynn and Bill Barilko collided with terrific impact. “I thought he had broken my leg,” Lynn said after the game.

The second Rocket tally also came on a breakaway with Bill Barilko in the penalty bench. The puck went flying between Turk Broda’s legs.

Syl Apps, with two goals and an assist, topped the Toronto performers, closely followed by Harry Watson and Bill Ezinicki. Apps opened the scoring at 8:26 of the first period. Murph Chamberlain tied it up 14 seconds later, and then little Howie Meeker put the Leafs in front again after 57 seconds more play.

Meeker was standing in front of Bill Durnan and trapped the puck that came whizzing out from behind the net on a pass from Ted Kennedy. The “Teeder” made it 4-2 for Toronto at 6:33 of the middle session, with Richard trimming the lead four minutes later. It took fireman Syl Apps and his crew 21 seconds to get that one back and douse the Montréal attack.

The Montréal cause flamed anew in the third period with two quick goals by Toe Blake and Richard within 16 seconds. The Leafs were shorthanded. Richard appealed to both the official scorer and referee for an assist on Blake’s goal, but it did not look as though he touched the puck at any time on the play.

When things looked desperate for Toronto, it was the Apps line that again turned the tide, with Watson, a much improved player in the last half dozen games, taking Syl’s pass for the final score.

NOTES: Bill Barilko and Jimmy Thomson, each with two penalties, headed the sin bin parade for Toronto, with Butch Bouchard, with two enforced rests, the worst so-called offender in the enemy camp. Even the mild-mannered Bud Poile was sentenced. Chadwick called it “interference” when Murph Chamberlain ran into him. Barilko was banished in the second for “interference” after checking puck carrier Mosdell. Kennedy and Bouchard were banished together late in the third for holding each other against the boards…With nothing at stake, coach Happy Day spelled off both Apps and Kennedy, giving Joe Klukay extra work at centre. Joe came up with some solid checking. Don Metz and Sid Smith also saw action after plenty of bench time in recent games…Irvin pulled Bill Durnan off at 19:35 of the last period, and on the subsequent faceoff, Don Metz broke away and missed the open net!…Montréal had 30 shots on goal compared to 28 for Toronto…The Canadiens were minus Kenny Reardon, Buddy O’Connor and George Allen, victims of the New York fiasco…Garth Boesch, Sid Smith and Turk Broda will work out this morning at nine. Wally Stanowski may start skating Monday.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 20, 1947

1st Period
TOR PEN – 05:10 – Thomson
TOR GOAL – 08:25 – Apps (Ezinicki, Mortson)
MTL GOAL – 08:40 – Chamberlain (Peters, Mosdell)
MTL PEN – 08:56 – Mosdell
TOR PP GOAL – 09:38 – Meeker (Kennedy, Barilko)
TOR PEN – 10:15 – Poile, interference
MTL PEN – 12:15 – Richard
TOR PEN – 15:58 – Thomson
TOR PEN – 18:13 – Meeker

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 03:03 – Barilko, interference
MTL PEN – 03:36 – Chamberlain
MTL PEN – 05:09 – Harmon
TOR PP GOAL – 06:33 – Kennedy (Poile, Barilko)
MTL GOAL – 10:46 – Richard (Blake)
TOR GOAL – 11:00 – Apps (Ezinicki)
MTL PEN – 19:49 – Bouchard

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 02:28 – Lynn
TOR PEN – 04:55 – Ezinicki
MTL PEN – 06:08 – Chamberlain
TOR PEN – 07:46 – Barilko
MTL PP GOAL – 09:26 – Blake (Leger)
MTL PP GOAL – 09:43 – Richard
TOR GOAL – 10:09 – Watson (Apps)
MTL PEN – 14:27 – Bouchard, holding
TOR PEN – 14:27 – Kennedy, holding

TOR – Broda (W, 26-30)
MTL – Durnan (L, 23-28)

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Syl Apps (C), Bill Ezinicki, Ted Kennedy, Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, Howie Meeker, Don Metz, Nick Metz, Bud Poile, Sid Smith, Gaye Stewart, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Roger Leger. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Léo Gravelle, Leo Lamoureux, Hub Macey, Kenny Mosdell, Jimmy Peters, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 29-19-10 (.586)
MTL – 33-15-10 (.655)